The osmotic fragility test in Chennai is one of the most reliable tests to check the health of the red blood cells that are produced in the body. The test, as the name suggests, is done to understand if there is a likelihood that the person’s red blood cells will undergo breakdowns that are not due to a natural cause. Certain hereditary conditions call for the osmotic fragility test.
The red blood cells help the body function properly. They transport oxygen to cells, collect the waste materials and pass them on to the excretory systems, and help maintain the overall well-being of the body.
When these red blood cells are fragile and break down easily (a condition known as hemolysis), they cause several disorders. Often genetic disorders like Spherocytosis or Thalassemia are detected via the process of osmotic fragility test. While both the conditions differ, they have a common factor—both give rise to hemolytic anemia.
The test is usually prescribed when the patient shows the following symptoms:
People suffering from anemia too are advised to go for the osmotic fragility test to understand the exact causal effect for the patient to become anemic. This further helps the doctors to prescribe further tests for proper detection.
The osmotic fragility test subjects the blood sample to stress by adding the samples to solutions with different salinity levels. At low salinity, normal cells remain intact while fragile cells rupture. Once this is confirmed, further tests to identify if the person is suffering from thalassemia or spherocytosis is requested.
The test requires collection of blood from the patient. While the sample collection process can be painless, there are certain side effects that an already anemic person might feel. These include:
Often resting can help alleviate the symptoms.
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Spherocytosis or hereditary spherocytosis is a hereditary condition that causes the red blood cells to become fragile. This condition is due to the mutation of at least five genes and the symptoms include anemia, enlarged spleen, and jaundice. The underlying cause behind the fragility of the red blood cells is that the mutations caused by spherocytosis make the RBC membrane rigid, which decreases its flexibility, causing it to break apart easily. Affected newborns show signs of severe anemia from birth.
Thalassemia is another hereditary condition where the DNA that forms the red blood cells is affected. This condition is due to the body not producing enough hemoglobin to help the formation of red blood cells, thereby causing low oxygen saturation in the blood. People with thalassemia show signs of anemia, along with breathing difficulties. While mild thalassemia is manageable, the severe form would require constant monitoring.
Since the samples are subjected to saline solutions, there is no need to fast prior to the testing. But, if the patient is under any medication, then he/she should consult the doctor to know if the medicines will affect the results.
With osmotic fragility, the test results can either be negative or positive. If the lab result comes back as negative, the patient is not suffering from any conditions that are related to anemia. A positive result means that the cells are not strong and flexible enough, and further tests are required to ensure the exact cause is suggested.
For a person showing signs of anemia, if the results are normal for osmotic fragility, then other conditions, like deficiencies, should be tested for.
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